Bob Vokey makes the best wedges for the best players in the world on behalf of Titleist. For as long as I can remember Vokey have been the top wedge brand in golf.
Since SM6 Vokeys have evolved subtly to be exactly what tour players want. Imagine being on the practice ground with Justin Thomas or Nelly Korda week in week out. Mr Vokey has listened and gone on to design a wedge with the feedback of those players in mind.
The trend right now with wedge play for all manufacturers is lowering the ball flight on the full shots. When I watch professional events I am always taken aback by how high they hit their driver but how low they hit their wedges. This is something Butch Harmon has been trying to get Danielle Kang to do for a few years because it simplifies the shot and you can go at the flag more.
The new Vokey SM9 wedges has a focus on this exact shot by placing weight higher in the toe. The flight is reduced and the spin still remains.
First of all, I would always encourage any golfer to get custom fitted for Titleist Vokey wedges because the loft/bounce/grind chart can be very confusing.
Your shot versatility is obtained by a comprehensive 23 head options in different lofts, grinds and bounces. These 23 heads are available in three finishes: Jet Black, Tour Chrome and Brushed Steel.
However don't be overwhelmed, the good news is that there is only one set up choice in the PW, two in the GW and multiple in SW and LW due to the wider range of shorter shots you play with these clubs.
Progressive Centre of Gravity - Maintaining the lower CG in the stronger lofts, while raising CG even further in the more lofted clubs. This promotes a lower ball flight and is seen by tour players as being a more accurate shot than having the ball float into the air. Imagine “throwing darts” as the commentary teams say on television.
You can see the fuller head at the top of the toe in the lob wedges when the clubs are aligned next to each other, but you can only slightly notice a change in shape at address. There is CG shift between lofts and there is a progressive hosel length in the wedges to balance out weight distribution.
Milled grooves - SM9 sees Titleist use a new saw to cut their grooves, instead of stamping them onto the face. This way the material is removed from the face and not spread out which means the grooves are sharper and weight isn't dispersed.
Once again Vokey customise their wedges even in the grooves. 46 to 54 degree heads have narrower and deeper grooves as these are used more in fuller shots with greater swing/ball speed. The 56 to 62 grooves are wider and shallower for chipping and lob shots.
Heat treatment This treatment is now applied to the impact areas of the face to increase durability. Vokey inspect all wedges individually but do recommend you look to change wedges after 75 rounds in order to keep the spin rate at its optimum.
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Titleist SM9 Wedges Review
There are three finishes available in SM9: Tour Chrome (matte), Brushed Steel (shiny) and Jet Black (matte). There is the same classic stamping on the sole with the BV logo in the middle, SM9 written towards the toe and Vokey Design nearer the heel. In the bag I think the wedges looks great. They are clean and contemporary.
When you take the wedge out of the bag you notice the fuller toe, and there is more material behind the head. It makes the head look a little rounder, but Vokey has done a great job of disguising this weight distribution at address.
In the lower lofted wedges (46-52) at address the club sits squarer, the leading edge looks to be straighter and less rounded at the top of the toe.
Despite the slight changes SM9 still looks very much like a Vokey should and that’s what I like about these heads. They’re familiar and consistent, you won’t see Bob Vokey ever designing a wedge with a high toe or full face of grooves. He is traditional in what he wants the wedge to look like.
Nothing feels better than a Vokey, they’re silky smooth and with the right setup just slide under the ball. I visited Hillside GC practice ground to have a full custom fitting session with the new SM9s.
I originally tried the 12 bounce in the 52 degree but I could feel the club stuttering in the turf at impact. I was advised to switched to the 8 bounce as my impact is shallower than when I was previously fitted for my SM8s. The 12 felt good but the 8 slid through the turf and cushioned the ball off the face.
The strike felt tight knit and the spin was better than my SM8 52 degree wedge. Thankfully also the SM9s don’t seem to be ripping the cover off your ball, but looking at the Trackman numbers the backspin was high which you'd expect from the milled grooves.
My SM8 wedges are a few years old and have played over the recommended 75 rounds. My spin dropped 500 rpm on average and my flight favoured the left side. To fix that we changed to the new wedge with fresh grooves and made it a degree flatter to straighten my flight up. I can’t say I noticed the lower ball flight but this is something that Titleist have worked on gradually for the last few generations.
The main part of the fitting was when I moved onto the chipping green and started to hit bunker shots - these clubs just got better and better, they’re so secure in strike and very reliable. The wedge glided through the turf and nipped the ball at impact, resulting in reliable soft strikes. There is nothing worse than getting the club stuck in the ground at impact. The ball shoots from the face and you lose the control of the ball.
I then picked up the lob wedge, historically as a two wedge player I need high versatility with this club as it is 6 degrees more lofted than my 52. This gap is the highest one Titleist advise in custom fitting, they like to see only 4 degrees between clubs which unfortunately means you are buying 3 wedges and paying an additional £169.
It’s important for me to have a 58 degree that works first and foremost in a bunker and then to chip with, because I use my 52 to chip with more often than not as I like to see the ball on the ground and rolling towards the hole so it has a chance of dropping in. I stressed this to my fitter - make sure you talk to them about your golf as they are only seeing a small sample of your game.
Both wedges I could spin and release depending on the swing I put on the shot, I was especially a fan of the lob wedge chip shot which stopped on the second bounce. It was soft in landing rather than quick and checking. The performance of these wedges really was impressive.
Finally the bunker shot, this is where I feel Vokey really stand out and help my game. The consistency of impact through the sand was staggering, I seemed to take the exact same amount of sand and impact location every time. You could hear the thump and it was relentless in its consistency.
I genuinely believe Vokeys make me a better bunker player, the SM8s changed my bunker game and these are just as good. I feel like Seve in the sand these days which is never a bad thing.
The SM9s are an evolution of the Vokeys but not a drastic change, you’ll notice a difference between these and the SM6s but only a subtle change from the SM8s. Many golfers save some money and buy the SM8s and others will upgrade from SM7s to SM9s. I can’t hide my excitement and love for a Vokey wedge and it doesn’t change on these. They make me giddy and want to practice my short game all the time.
Titleist SM9 Wedges Verdict
I know what you are thinking, there is a lot that goes into making a wedge. You’d be correct and that is why it’s always best to get fitted and discuss purchases with your pro. In my experiences wedges can be the least searched review on YouTube and some of the worst fitting processes. Don’t be that person, as how your club interacts with the turf is more vital in wedges than with any other club.
The attention to detail from Bob Vokey is extraordinary and you can feel the change in strike as you try many different heads. It’s important to know what grass you play, what course you play (be it links or parkland) and how you deliver the club at impact (steep or shallow).
I don’t want my Vokeys to look different to the past designs, I barely want them to perform differently either as you want reliability around the greens. The SMs have been nurtured and feel just beautiful at impact, the GW is super consistent with full shots and the chip and run. The 58 is versatile in shot options and with the change of grind from D to M I had an increase in performance. Before when I opened the club face I presented too much leading edge, but due to the high bounce and shape with the M grind this doesn’t happen. I am guarded from the bladed strike when hitting the lob shot which then builds a trust and compliment to my short game.
Overall I can’t fault these wedges for an elite player as we are aware of the slight differences of feel at strike, flight and contact with the ground. I am still unsure of how a higher handicapper can benefit as much other than having higher bounce in a wedge. Their delivery will be erratic and Vokey is a bladed wedge which offers little help in the forgiveness department.
I have also never heard a beginner or poorer striker of the golf ball say I need to lower my ball flight which is what these are said to do.
I grabbed the 46 degree to see if I could finally be that 3 wedge Vokey golfer, it was so good I asked for an entire iron set of Vokeys. The materials are superb and generate fantastic feedback on the strike through the head, shafts, grip and into your hands.
Who Are They Aimed At?
Vokeys are no doubt aspirational golf clubs, you are viewed as a knowledgeable and better golfer if you have these in the bag.
Again, I would certainly encourage you to get fitted for these due to the variations on offer and especially get fitted on grass as a mat does not give any useful feedback on interaction needed for bounce and grind.
I still feel these are better players clubs for 15 handicappers or below as they are bladed heads which require you to deliver the club consistently and strike the centre of the face.
Would I Use Them?
No question - 100%. I already use the SM8s and having seen the drop off in spin and different performance of my swing (I am less steep at impact these days) I will be changing wedges.
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